Counting crows?

A new study suggests that crows can recognize symbols that represent quantities of items. At Japan's Utsunomiya University, crows were shown two containers. Only the container marked with five symbols contained the food. The researchers trained the crows to identify the food container 70% of the time. Alfred Hitchcock could not be reached for comment. From Mainichi Daily News:

 Images  Movies.Yahoo.Com Images Hv Photo Movie Pix Universal Pictures The Birds Alfred Hitchcock Birds2 The crows later received tests for non-numerical clues such as element configuration, shape, total filled area and novel sets of quantity involving choices with figures ranging from two to eight.

The eight crows had a 70 to 90 percent success rate choosing the container holding food for 19 of the 20 choices with which they were presented.

(Shoei) Sugita and other researchers have also discovered that crows can distinguish between men's and women's faces, with the research results made public last year. "We want to reveal more about the unknown intelligence of crows," the professor said.

"Study finds crows can distinguish symbols representing quantities"


  1. Cool study, but it strikes me here that we may be looking at pattern recognition rather than the ability to count and compare numbers. (i.e. they learn that that certain pattern of dots equals food, rather than them determining that “five equals food”)

    Follow up experiments:

    Label a set of containers with dots that have a range of numbers, and always put the food in the highest numbered container, with a number of food pellets corresponding to the number on the container.

    See how high you can go before they start to lose count and make mistakes. See if you can introduce new symbols for decimal counting (Or maybe octal, since I think crows only have four digits per foot? We don’t want to be biased towards anthrodigitalnumerology, which is a thing I just made up.) and if it works, see if using those reduces or increases mistakes at high numbers.

  2. What do you mean, an African or a European crow?

    What? I — I don’t kno — AAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaa…..

    One, Two, FIVE!
    Three, sir, three!

  3. I love love love Crows.  They are so smart it scares me.   I had a flock of crows who recognized my car (because I used to feed them).  I stopped taking that route for more than a year and one day I decided to go back that way and those same crows recognized my car and started flying alongside my car hoping I guess that I would feed them.  You better not start feeding crows because they never forget and will wait for you and stalk you.  They do me but I love them.

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